FIVB - Women's Volleyball World Cup 2011

MATCH INFO

Costagrande powers Italy past China in five-set marathon


Carolina del Pilar Costagrande was immense at the net as Italy celebrated Antonella Del Core's 31st birthday in style

Hiroshima, Japan, November 5, 2011 – Italy’s Carolina del Pilar Costagrande recorded the highest score of the 2011 World Cup to date – 27 points – to lead the 2007 champions Italy to victory over 2003 winners China 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-12) in an exhilarating volleyball  display of power and precision in Hiroshima on Saturday.

With China ranked sixth and Italy seventh, a close match on paper proved to be exactly that in reality, with del Pilar Costagrande ably supported by Lucia Bosetti and Valentina Arrighetti with 16 and 15 points respectively as Italy reversed their defeat in August to China in the playoff for seventh at the World Grand Prix Finals. China produced a balanced attack led by Hui Ruoqi and Yang Junjing with 18 apiece and three others in double-digits, including the inspirational Yimei Wang.

Both sides came out firing hard in the first set, del Pilar Costagrande sending four spikes through the Chinese defence to give her side a quick 10-6 lead. Hui Ruoqi was the only one really firing well for the Chinese side (she went on to score five points in the set), countering with attacks from out wide. But Italy broke away with an attack from Valentina Arrighetti to extend their lead to 20-13. She would drop another devastating spike to take the set 25-20, disappointing China who had an easier day against Algeria on Friday.

Italy continued to frustrate China’s hard-hitting Wang Yimei in the second, posting numerous blocks against her attack out right. But her teammate Xu Yunli crashed Italy’s block party with a stuff of her own on Lucia Bosetti to make it 11-6 to China. But Italy hung close and levelled it at 13-13 with a spike from Arrighetti. Italy pulled ahead to make it 20-18, and coach Yu Juemin called a timeout to regroup. Wang continued to be stymied at the net by Italy but Hui and Zhang Lei and picked up the slack to close it out for China 25-22, levelling the match at one set apiece.

To open the third set, a frustrated Wang found some luck from at the service line dropping an ace to make it 4-1 China. But Bosetti brought the Italians back, putting them up 13-10 with a pair of great spikes. China’s Yang responded with fury knocking over Lo Bianco with a drive keeping China within striking distance at 17-14. And strike they did as Wang then hit her stride to help China even it, and then pull ahead as Yang Junjing drove a clutch spike at the feet of the Italians to give China set point before Zhang Lei dropped an ace just past the reach of Italian libero Paola Croce.

But China’s attack would sputter again in the fourth with errant spikes from Wang and Hui, as well as an Italian block on Yang’s would-be strike, putting Italy out front 8-3. Italy would stretch ahead 18-11 with more scoring from del Pilar Costagrande, birthday girl Antonella Del Core and a stunning block by Lo Bianco on Hui out wide. China would close to within two, but an Arrighetti ace gave the Italians set point, followed by a Simona Gioli cross-court kill to close it 25-21, two sets all.

In the deciding set Italy’s del Pilar Costagrande put her team ahead with more strong attacking but China soon regained the lead. The key down the stretch was a pair of blocks from Gioli, first on Wang and then on Hu, which helped Italy fight back from 10-8 down before providing set point. Lucia Bosetti served it out with her fourth ace of the day to make it 15-12, giving Italy the match in a thriller 3-2.

Women’s World Cup Results/Standings, Match Info, Photos or Live Scoring


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